Monday, 31 October 2011


Call me strange, but the oddest things give me a chuckle.

Fella down the road visited for a chat and to use our phone. I stood up to make him a cuppa.

Quick as a flash, he was on his feet, leaned over, holding me up with one hand while bending down and swivelling up my foot rests. They have these pegs on the back that once, before the dog chewed them, held sturdy straps meant to prevent my feet slipping off the footrests. Now, there's only the metal pegs.

Mr T was worried I'd catch my trousers on the pegs. True. I have done before.

Mr. T is 62, a widower with an 18 year old daughter. He's had a heredity gout problem since a teenager. He's had two replacement knee caps, and he's on higher rate Disability Living Allowance Mobility, Pension Credits, and he'll never work again. He'd just received a leaflet from the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) explaining he could be entitled a Motability adapted car and the infamous Blue Badge.

It's £49 per week. That would pay for any car. Assuming he could raise the £2000 deposit, and a way of paying the extra two quid to bring it up to at least £52.

He gets around to the pub and walks his dogs, with difficulty. The bloke can't even afford a phone.

And there he is, trying to stop me, who's on Lower Rate Mobility DLA, from tripping over my wheel chair, bless him.

Crazy, ironic, and in an odd way, deeply funny. Guess you'd have to be me.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Fright Night

The Family, lots of neighbours and all and sundry are off to "Fright Night"
in Sheffield city centre.

So I've had lots of ladies who oddly, don't seem to care that I'm in the room, stripping orf, swapping and changing costumes, plastering make up and littering my living room with my pet hate - carrier bags. And make up. Costumes, and more make up.

I've had a horrible and scarey thought. Am I 'A Certain Age' ?


Tuesday, 25 October 2011


I'm a bit out of sorts at the moment. But, as the Merkins (Americans) say Meh!?

The family is out, the cat's on the router, and the dog is eating their biscuits. The Bear had a sudden urge for Sausage casserole - using 40% pork bangers. I wouldn't touch those with a very, very long pointy stick. Folks, read the labels. Ignore mono-sodium glutamate. It's natural. Used for hundreds of years in Chinese food.

Pork Rinds? That's deep waste fried in pig fat. That's ears, skin and nostrils by the way. Not in sosies folks. Over! Forty! Percent! Pork! is cool as an advert, not good for eating. Think okidoke, what's the other 60% ? Aha! see?

However, there is another way, that like I wos taught when I worked in my butchers, in my back yard (a shared back yard amongst three terraced houses) in the 60's. Yup I was twelve, helped out in the shop, and did his accounts.

Well ok, Pigs intestines as a sossie skin are hard to get hold of. Or cow. There's plenty of synthetic stuff available on the net who would like to separate you and your credit debit card details and sell your personal details.

Then There's sausage cakes/burgers/ and 'skinless' sausages.

Grab a few good handful's of minced beef, pork, or lamb. Cheaper the better, because you need a little fat. Like, 10%?

Grab a handful of stale breadcrumbs. Yessir, I know that's against Health and Safety. That someone might stick some bread going a bit hard in the fridge overnight and beat the wostsit out of it in a plastic bag? Good therapy.

Add a tablespoon of water. A handful of herbs. Fresh is better, but dried is cool. You might want to add - well, anything? Mustard? Grated apple? Throw in some salt and ground black pepper anyway. Yeee-up. even with the apple. I'd recommend nutmeg and coriander.

Get your fingers in there and get greasy. Don't, whatever you do, use a food processor. You'll end up with a messy, yucky, paste. It's disgusting.

Sod the government. Shape into what you want. A burger? A Sausage? Cook it in dripping. In a frying pan, and treat yourself to a full, English Breakfast.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Getting down...


I'm chilled now. I'm sorry I became irate. Bear and I spend a lot of time keeping track and advising people informally on the benefit system and some factions of the immigration system.

Look. When it comes to Disability Living Allowance, beginning April 2013 everyone will be reassessed. That's because it will be changed to a benefit called Personal Independence Allowance - PIPS.

The present government have put it quite succinctly. "To ensure that those deserve it, get it."

Yup. It isn't something that worries us. The only consistent thing we've found in life is change.


Oh, Immigration. English son, American wife, dual nationality granddaughter :)


Am I the only man in the universe who smiles when something breaks? Restoration, a little archaeology, is painstaking and difficult. Looking at a pile of broken pieces, I think.. wow!... and mentally, rapidly, go through the options.

Love it. I love the distraction, the detail and the close quarter work that I can work on at my own pace, take a break as much as I want and, well, just get into it :)

Saturday, 22 October 2011

A bit narked

As we say around here.

I've just read a blog of a Stroke Survivor in his twenties who in the last three days has been out with his parents on a shopping trip. Later, he went on a "regular walk" for a MILE, (1,760 steps) took his walking stick, but didn't need it, and was a bit tired.

Why am I annoyed? He's waiting for his Motability car to come through.

Disability living allowance has two components. Care, three levels, lower, upper, middle. Two levels of Mobility. Higher and Lower

I don't get out much, because I can't walk very far. So I only get lower. One of the options of Higher rate Mobility allowance is that you can give up the allowance for an adapted car. 

That seems so wrong.

But get this. To get Higher rate Mobility you must be virtually unable to walk. Eh?


Again :)

Pickling, I've decided, is a macho, man's thing. Or maybe it's just the woman I know. Robust as they are (ahem), when I do pickles and chutneys, they do nowt but grumble.

"Heck, Dray, that pongs!". Yes. Yes it does. A good chutney needs a well dark, flavoursome malt vinegar that when hot makes your eyes go crossed as it assaults the senses. Non of your poncey Branston pickle. It needs to smell like, kerpow! as it cooks. It's a man thing. Feel free to disagree....

Sounds a bit rough? Nah. Today it's Elderberry and Apple. A friend who has a heck of a problem walking found some end-of-season elderberries on a local field untouched by an arsonists field fire.

I like Mr. T. He's not only gutsy, (he's in a lot of pain)  he brought back 5 pounds of elderberries for me to play with. Mr. T talks my kind of language. He chatted about leaving some seeds for future years, some for the birds, and worrying about the little   who set three fires on the field. 

Wot? No recipe? In the spirit of adventure I'll see how this works out before I publish it. But if you're feeling adventurous, dig around the web for a standard Fruit Chutney, and substitute the fruits you have.

I should warn you that chutneys need to be in a dark cool place for at least a month, preferably three. This will be ready by 20th December.... :)

Not sure about this new Google blogspot thingy. Very 'laggy'. Click something - takes ages?

Thursday, 20 October 2011


Wants to bring a school Hamster home for Half Term.

My experience of  the little buggers is that that if you have cats, they die of shock at the slightest excuse.

Anyone have any experience? I don't......

Wednesday, 19 October 2011


Shock horror. I've left my main PC alone for a couple of days. Partly because, to be frank, I get sick of it.

It's not the PC. It is, to be frank, because I don't get out much, a 'lifeline'.  But a lot of locals are much, much more disadvantaged that we, so they need access to the all pervasive internet. Sure, they have have phones, mobiles, and in some cases, internet themselves.

But being on low incomes, credit card debts (spit!), benefit paid into banks, bank charges, fuel debts - Geez, some of these people are on £46 per week.

To be fair, I'm quite well aware that there are always going to be those who encompass the resources available to them into their estimation of that they feel they need, to maintain the lifestyle to which they would like to be come accustomed.

( How polite is that! :)  )

But there are families with kids and people with disabilities who need access to the internet, because to resolve their difficulties it's much quicker and cheaper than an expensive phone call. 

Because they're struggling, their own phone availability may well be inconsistent, and likewise their internet access, should they have it. Phone Box? What's that?

Anyways. Our local-ish Advice Centre is down to one day a week because of government cuts. The volunteers are willing, but paying for other resources such as fuel, lighting and phone bills has made it Mission Impossible. 

Same here. I love helping out, but sometimes it just gets too much.

My apologies if anyone is inconvenienced.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011


My trousers fell down.

All of them. :) The first pair in front Er'Indoors and my two daughters and a lady neighbour. 

Well, it wasn't going to happen while I was on my own, was it? That's not the way the world works is it?

Bear and her friend looked me up and down with raised eyebrows, then continued with their conversation as though nothing had happened. Eldest daughter looked up from her "I was flattened by a 17 stone dwarf maniac" magazine, and said "Good Grief". Predictably, teenage Tots said "Oh for god's sake Dad, I can see your KEKS!"*

Me? Halle-bloody-Luya, and I said so. I apologise for the image in your head of a middle aged, bearded Yorkshireman with his trousers around his ankles sounding jubilant, flashing his er....'keks'.

If you didn't. You have now.
With the conversation between wife and neighbour turning to a pants-versus-boxers debate, I did my monkey swing thing on my rails up to the bedroom - which I can tell you,  is no mean feat with your trousers around your ankles - I tried on another pair of jeans. Then another. And then my suit trousers. Then in desperation, as the voice of the Bear drifted up "Belt. Second drawer, on the top, the one who's bottoms popped out (giggle)" 

I tried on the almost forgotten suit trousers I wore when we wed, 22 (?) years ago.

Yay. Success. Well, alright then, a little tight. But I'm pleased. I've managed to lose a lot of weight that I really, really needed to shift. Body Mass Index (BMI) now 23. Like, Yay :)

Parting shot from Bears mate as she left "First time I've seen you stand up in ages Dray".

How to deflate a mans ego........

*footnote. Keks or Kegs. Ancient British teen-speak for masculine underwear. They'll be telling they invented textfway speakfway next.

Saturday, 8 October 2011


A local Asda super-store has opened within Bear walking distance, bang next to daughters school.

The prices are quite reasonable, though I'm sure some prices are introductory crowd pullers. The Bear is drawn to it like a moth, and daughter mine is getting home from school an hour later, because she goes for a wander around after school with her mates.

I've always wanted a decent butchers nearby, and I've campaigned for a long time to get one. I'm a great believer in thriving local shops.

Courteous staff "Ma'am, we can't sell you that, we've a bit of a problem with cheeky blighters peeling labels off a reduced products and sticking it on something more expensive, then doing a runner when staff approach. Tell you what, you can have that for free, and I'll fetch you something from this afternoon, and charge you THAT sticker price for both. Is that ok?"

Yup. Asda butcher, aka, Walmart. Here's me getting sticking up for local shop keepers. Phew the 'little guys' have their work cut out to beat service like that......


Bear is off with some local ladies later to a 'Baby Shower' with another ex-local lady who moved away, who was famous for her Anne Summers parties. Tiddler number 5 apparently. The irony isn't lost on me :)

I know what a Merkin (American) Baby Shower is. My mind boggles what a Yorkshire Anne Summers wielding Baby Shower is. Probably involves copious amounts of Fosters and 1980's music. My bet is on lots of Ronan Keating.

In my day, we called it a Granny Bash :) More Like This

Friday, 7 October 2011

I think I'm me / Bag o'rats

It's rather hard to type when your wheelchair-cum-office chair is sideways on to your desk, and you have a pussy cat with a poorly tum on your knee, who after 11 years of running away from this man-thing, has decided I'm wonderful. Or else.

"No offence wheelie" said a friend of mine, "but I can't see how anyone reading you could mistake you for a journalist".

Oh my. If only she knew :)

It does sound rather a deflating thing to say doesn't it?

Absolutely not. Though I have to admit she was puzzled why I laughed.

Perhaps I should explain.

Yeh, I write, and not just here. I also ghost write, often for people who are better speakers than writers. You'd think speaking and writing are synonymous, but they aren't. I know, I do both.

Speaking allows you the freedom to improvise, and can often be carried off by outline notes if you're doing it alone. Nothing wrong with outline notes because they stop you from wandering. Often though, a much stricter, structured script is needed where you need to stick to what's in front of you.

For instance, politicians speeches are written by committee. I do something similar. I meet with - correction - they meet with me, and we chat and socialise and I 'get into their heads'. Then two like minds meet and we mash up a draft and work on it.

The cost to me is time to get out of their head. Clear the decks, so to speak, or one can lose track of who you are, ne'er influencing mind the next client.

Very formal articles often have to written to strict guidelines. Scientific articles are peer-reviewed. The work is submitted to a lot of other scientists, and often by peeps you've never heard of to be reviewed.

Pending their approval, the publication may have strict conditions on the structure of the article.

Journalism? Right bag of rats that is. There's that you submit, and there's the stuff that's printed. The poor little article is messed about with, twiddled, and published when they feel like it. Each publication has it's own preferred way of expressing itself. I'm not going into more detail about that, mainly because it's something you have to experience to believe. G'won, try. No reason why you shouldn't :)

If you are into writing, you need a lot of heads. The trick is, finding your way back to your own.

My Blogging is my way way of breaking all the rules, forgetting all the experience and getting back into my own head. It's messy in here, and that's how I like it! :)

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Ray 'Favoured'

My best mate popped up for an couple of hours last night with another much younger chap from his community home. Ray, 82, and I have known each other for over 30 years.

Ray's lived in a Jesus Army community household for over twenty years. Though I was part of that church for awhile, (until 16 years ago) we didn't take that step, and I'm not sure they would have let me if I'd wanted to. Too much of a Dark Horse :)

Suits Ray down to the ground. Colourful, slightly controversial, and he's a breath of fresh air.

I've not seen him for a year, mainly because neither of us travel well, though we've kept in touch by phone. I have to admit I'm not too good with phones, so the contact has been down to his dogged faithfulness. Now that's what you call a friend.

Standard joke there, is where most 'Shepherds' have sheep, he has a Goat. Me. Cheeky monkeys :)

Gosh it was good to see him and Andy. Community has been very good for him, and they look after him. Certainly well fed :)

It was a great catch up time.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

That's a worry.....

Yesterday older pussy cat, who's about 13 - we don't really know how old she is - fell over on the windowsill and started fitting. Not a problem. I plonked her on my knee and used whatever means to get some water down her. It couldn't have been pleasant for the old girl, but after 5 mins she settled down and slept.

When she awoke, she was very lethargic, and has been behaving a bit odd. That is, she doesn't want anything to do with The Bear, but whenever I sit down she wants to be on my knee, and she's following me everywhere meowing.

That's a complete reversal. Though she's never followed Bear around, she's always a lady cat who's a ladies cat. I'm the 'man thing' who for the last 11 years she been with us she just about tolerates.

We don't really know how old she is. She was a stray who adopted us.

Update. To make matters more of a worry, I went to the field a few doors away with Sigma The Dog and Bear. Throwing his ball, sticks, that sorta thing. After half an hour was running up three or four steps, and promptly fell down them unconscious.

I put him on my knee, rubbed him vigorously for a couple of mins and he recovered and promptly jumped off looking for his ball. I've phoned the vet and he said it's the heat and humidity, and I shouldn't worry about it too much.

Just cut down on the exercise, and don't let the "old lady cat" bake her brain on a window sill.


Saturday, 1 October 2011


Now that's a surprise hot spell - it was 33.5 C / 92.3 F in my back garden two hours ago.

Despite that, I thinking of my planting strategies for hardy winter veg.

The first problem I have is defeating aged father-in-laws gardening techniques. If it isn't concrete or grass, it's a weed. I had to threaten to sit in one of my trees to stop him 'pruning' it last week. For pruning, read 'cutting a 25 foot, 25 year old tree to a 3 foot stake.' Again.

Thankfully, he backed off grumbling he was only trying to make things easier for me. Ye small gods, climb a tree? Having floppy ham butties and a thermos passed up in my best brining bucket? Gosh. I get the shakes sat on a stool, ne'er mind 20 feet up.

I'm at loss how to solve that one, short of a taser. Does that work against a strimmer/chainsaw wielding 5' 3" bulldozer?

My yield of herbs has been er, one. Rosemary. It survived in a pot. The cabbages, potatoes, fifteen herbs, radishes, onions and lettuces were strimmered ("bloody weeds, and why did you fence that bit off? I had right job getting to it....")


I'm going to have to break my principles and BUY some peat free compost. The stuff I've carefully nurtured for two years is, mysteriously levelling up a paved garden path. Something about vegetarian rats. More like peppers, chillies and tomato's sprouting.....

I have a cunning plan. I have, running 25 feet long, 3 feet wide, from my back garden gate to my front gate what could euphemistically called a 'flower bed'. It was a yellow Yorkshire stone gravelled effort that has fallen into disrepair. It's not a lot, but?

If I dig in a bit of compost to a spades depth, a little bit every day, and it looks obviously cultivated, particularly if I put in a few late bedding plants quick?


Winter herbs and veg? Surprisingly, yes.

Lots of salad leaves, and spinaches, if I keep an eye when we're due for frost, will keep coming 'till mid December. If it's frosty, I'll cover them in refuse sacks overnight.

Kale I've found is frost tolerant., as seems to be broad beans ("Wots those things on sticks?")

Garlic- the one from the supermarket will do, will struggle through until late spring. They take ages anyway.

Parsnips, Swedes, Turnips, onions (from 'sets') shallots, fennel and pak choi if their picked when mature - fine.

Rhubarb, Celery and Leeks if heaped over with a well fertile soil as they poke above the soil. Stubborn little monkeys :)

I'll definitely be planting some parsley.

The trick is to plant more than you need. The worst that can happen is you get a pleasant surprise.

Unless you have a strimmer killer :)

Oh, a quick footnote. Rescued an 8" terracotta pot of compost and put it on the kitchen windowsill . Y'know those red, green, yellow 'peppers' and Chillies from the supermarket? Well, I said to Bear, y'know those seeds inside? Just chuck them in there.

Three weeks later, I have pot full of vigorous plants. Heck! Which are the Chillies? Chuckle!